It was shaping up to be another hot one and the morning had me praying that the cloud cover would hang around long enough to get me through the toughest climbs of the day... As I was to find out later, the toughest climbs were actually right near the end of the race and the sun had no intention of hiding it's hot little head for that long.
After some friendly start-line banter, we were off... My attempts to motopace the neutral vehicle saw me sitting at the front of the pack down the first fire trail splitting the wind for the rest of the pack behind me (serves me right). If there's one thing Anthony from DCP does best, it's finding lots of hills to have us ride up, and we were soon on our way up the first of these hills (in the full 70km, we did 1650m of vertical climbing). If there's one other thing Anthony does really well, it's finding awesome, rugged, unridden trails with a view (that's a tick in every box!!!)... True adventure mountain biking... And the Puhoi marathon saw us riding through quite a bit of private land generously laid at our disposal for the day by it's respective landowners (thanks guys!)
I won't give you the km by km lowdown on the trail... You really do have to ride this race to truly appreciate what it offers. There was a lot of gravel road mixed in there linking up a myriad of cattle trails and farmland singletrack... No sooner had I left the canopied farmland mud bogs than I was firing down a dusty firetrail. It really was a mixed bag of trails and kept me entertained for a good 4 hours.
In terms of my own race, I've been feeling pretty fast lately (for an endurance rider)... My catch phrase used to be along the lines of "I ride for a long time, but not particularly fast". Some speedwork incorporated by the coach has shown me lately that I can have my cake and eat it too if I'm willing to grind out the hard km and get some racing into my wheels, so that's what today was about. My first 40km was pretty good... Fast , hard riding on the firetrails made up for a slow grind through some of the softer farmland trails and the occasional hike-a-bike (for those of you who know how much I love running/walking). My 3 hour Go fast pick-me-up was much appreciated, as were my new Adidas Evil Eyes along the dusty dirt roads (I was happy to see afterwards that the 2mm thick dust was stuck to the outside of the lenses and not to my eyeballs).
My finishing time was a little over four and a quarter hours, and in all truthfullness, whilst I would have been pegging for a slightly quicker finish, I had a great day out... The company was great, the track was challenging and the atmosphere was really chilled.
Next race... Summer NDuro #3 next Sunday in Rotorua... I can't believe we're already a month into this year... 24 Hour World Solo Champs are only nine months away!!!